There is a scene in The Matrix, where Neo and Morpheus, while meeting the Oracle, encounter a spoon-bender. The scene, like many other in the film, is riddled with such catchy dialogue that one requires a moment to consider whether some deep universal truth is being revealed. More often than not I assume the dialogue was written by a weed head who hit the bong too much. Regardless of my opinion, though, there are certain excerpts that make me smile whenever I hear them. When Neo is handed a spoon to bend, the following exchange takes place:
Spoon boy: Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead… only try to realize the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Spoon boy: There is no spoon.
Neo: There is no spoon?
Spoon boy: Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.
Okay, so it is not the coolest line in the film. But it does touch on problem I am faced with whenever I fire up my Photoshop, whenever I select an aperture setting on my camera, or whenever I am required to put words to something. There is always an incessant desire to create something no one has ever seen or read, there is a fear that the picture I take will not be original. I am always forcing myself to create something that is “outside the box.” The pressure this generates can become overpowering. It often leads to half-finished stories, graphic designs decaying in a forgotten folder on my laptop, and unedited photos that I do not want to share because they are not sufficiently awesome.
Thinking, or trying to think, outside the box actually destroys more than it creates, in my opinion.
Rather than worrying about whether my designs mimic something else I have seen on the net, or whether my photographs could have been captured by someone else with a better camera or more experience or skill, or fearing that my story could be said better by someone else, I have come to the realisation that there is no box–everything is unique.
So tell me, can you see the Emperor’s new box?